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Course Information

Instructor Info:Neil Stillings
Office Extension x5513
Colin Quirk
Nathan Whitmore
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 112
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 112

All students in the cognitive, neural, and psychological sciences should be familiar with certain key concepts. This course surveys these central ideas to give students the vocabulary needed to approach the research literature without being intimidated by a barrage of technical terms and to hold intelligent conversations with other students and faculty members who are interested in matters of mind, brain, and machine. Readings in the course will be drawn from books and journals in the field. Students will complete a series of essay assignments concerning the concepts covered in the course. There will be no final project. Prerequisite: At least one prior course in psychology, linguistics, computer science/AI, neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology, or animal behavior.

Evaluation Criteria:
  • On-time completion and satisfactory work on all written assignments. You must get in touch with me in advance if you will be unable to complete a written assignment on time.
  • On-time completion of any occasional additional web-based assignments.
  • Attendance at all class meetings and required section meetings. You are allowed to miss two class meetings without informing me in advance. Beyond that you must notify me in advance.
  • In-class participation is encouraged and will be noted in evaluations.
Additional Info:


There is no printed syllabus for this course. The course website is the syllabus. It will evolve during the course. Essay assignments will be posted at least 2 weeks before they are due.


There is no textbook for this course. All readings will be posted for download on the course website. If you are having trouble downloading files using Safari on a Mac, use a different browser, such as Firefox or Chrome. If you are still having trouble, talk to one of the TAs for the course.

In class behavior

Unless otherwise instructed, keep your laptops, tablets, and cellphones off during class.


In this course, you are expected to spend at least six to eight hours a week of preparation and work outside of class.

Section meetings

The teaching assistants for the course will be holding some meetings outside of class time. Attendance at some of these meetings will be required.

How to write the papers in this course

Download the writing guide below. 

Format for citations and reference lists

For the assignments in this course you should practice using the American Psychological Association (APA) format for citing your sources in text and for formatting your reference lists. You can learn about APA format by consulting the sources listed at You can also learn about APA format by just paying attention to published papers that use it, in journals such as Psychological Review orPsychological Science.

Please remember that if you list a source in your reference list you are affirming that you consulted that source directly. If your knowledge of source X comes only from learning about it in another source Y, then your knowledge of X is indirect, and you acknowledge this in your text and list Y in your references. For example, you might write, “In his classic analysis Fodor listed nine criteria for modularity (as cited in Barrett & Kurzban, 2006, p. 629).” In this case your knowledge of Fodor is indirect, and you only list Barrett and Kurzban (2006) in your reference list. For more information see the sources mentioned above.

Ethics of scholarship and academic dishonesty

Hampshire maintains a strict policy on the ethics of scholarship and academic dishonesty. Violations entail disciplinary action, which can include loss of credit or expulsion from the college. The full policy is available at under academic policies/ethics of scholarship.

For the purposes of this course the most important point is to avoid representing someone else’s work as your own, either inadvertently or deliberately. All sources used or consulted in your work must be cited. Sources include books, journals or other printed material, information from the internet, or the ideas or work of other people, such as fellow students or faculty. In this course a student who plagiarizes will not receive an evaluation.